Culture-negative surgical site infections

Mark S. Rasnake, David P. Dooley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: The appearance of postoperative surgical site infection (SSI) in the absence of culturable bacterial pathogens is a common dilemma for the surgeon. Methods: The literature was searched through references to primary articles, as well as a MEDLINE review, for reports of culture-negative SSIs. Results: Potential causes of culture-negative SSIs include prior antimicrobial therapy; the presence of fastidious or slow-growing microorganisms such as mycobacteria, Mycoplasma spp., and Legionella spp.; infection caused by mundane bacteria that may be dismissed as "contaminants"; factitious infection; and others. Conclusions: We review the recognized causes of "culture negative" SSIs and discuss the laboratory capabilities that may enhance recognition of many of these pathogens and management options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-565
Number of pages11
JournalSurgical infections
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Surgery


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